The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked the mask mandate that was issued by San Antonio and Bexar County for all their public schools. San Antonio and Bexar County are two of the few counties in the state to resist Governor Greg Abbott’s ban on said measures.
The Texas Supreme Court’s decision was made in the lawsuit filed by San Antonio and Bexar County. There are nine lawsuits filed by cities, counties, and school districts opposing Abbott’s ban on mask mandates, NBCDFW reported.
Just last week, a judge granted Bexar County and San Antonio a temporary injunction that put the governor’s ban on hold pending trial in that lawsuit. The Texas Attorney General’s Office asked the state high court to stay the injunction. The Texas Supreme Court had previously stayed temporary restraining orders issued in favor of Bexar County, San Antonio, and Dallas County.
In the order released Thursday, the court said supervision of decisions on mask mandates is up to the governor, and “that status quo” should remain in place while the courts examine the issue.
“This case, and others like it, are not about whether people should wear masks or whether the government should make them do it. Rather, these cases ask courts to determine which government officials have the legal authority to decide what the government’s position on such questions will be,” the court said.
“The Texas Supreme Court has sided with the law, and the decision to enforce mask mandates lies with the governor’s legislatively granted authority. Mask mandates across our state are illegal,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.
The court is yet to make a final decision on the legal issues regarding the mask mandates.
The decision of the Texas Supreme Court blocking the mask mandate would not immediately affect the suit filed in Dallas County, where masks mandates are implemented.
There are currently 10 counties and cities and 63 school districts in Texas that implement mask mandates to slow the spread of the virus.
Abbott said that the Texas Disaster Act gives him the power to decide the best way to respond in emergency situations which includes banning mask mandates during a pandemic.
Last month, an emergency order was issued where Abbott reiterated his mask mandate ban by any state, county, or local government entity. Counties and school districts believe that the governor went beyond his authority. Dallas and Harris counties, two of the states with the highest population, are among those who implemented the mask mandates.
In a statement posted on Facebook, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said: “We’re not going to let an ongoing court battle distract us from the real fight against COVID-19. Get the vax. Wear a mask.”
Judges who handle lawsuits opposing Abbot granted several temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions which allowed mask mandates to continue despite the ongoing cases in the courts. As of now, it is unclear how these mandates would affect the high court’s ruling on Thursday.